101 Uses for an iPhone

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The iPhone is experiencing all the adventure and abuse that comes with celebrity. Lately it has endured a Linux hack, turned itself into a projector, tried to board a plane, and spawned a Chinese knockoff. Here are a few new uses worth your attention.

A group called the iPhone Dev Team (the same guys who brought you the 3G software unlock) recently released OpeniBoot, a new boot loader for the iPhone that gives you a choice of running the native OS or the Linux shell at startup. This is a pure geek exercise -- no graphical UI, no touchscreen drivers, no sound, no Wi-Fi/cell support. (Check out the demo video at Vimeo.) But who knows where it will lead? Does the name Android mean anything to you?

[ What's in the latest iPhone firmware? Check out Galen Gruman's article "iPhone OS 2.2 update doesn't fix key business flaws." ]

As previously reported on InfoWorld, the iPhone 2.2 firmware update has arrived. Now you can use Google Street View to your heart's content and get walking and public transit directions, but overall, we're talking minor fixes. Updates such as over-the-air podcasts from iTunes and sharing location via e-mail don't do much for business users (and if you ask me moving the search box onto the same row as the URL box is actually a step backward).

But removing the requirement to use desktop iTunes to download podcasts is one more step that Apple seems to be taking to let the iPhone be its own platform. iTunes is a deal-breaker for many businesses, so removing its role as a forced middleman will help. First, Exchange got untethered from iTunes, now podcasts. Perhaps there's more to come.

Video site Joost has resurrected itself in the form of a streaming iPhone app, and although it's a bit flaky (reports of crashing, long waits for movie streams to start, and a fussy UI), it also has 46,000 videos available, which could make airport delays more tolerable.

Meanwhile, an undocumented feature in the 2.2 Software Development Kit allows the iPhone to send video output of its screen to a connected TV, turning your TV into an external iPhone monitor.

In an effort that proves he is either curious or very patient, Grant Martin of Gadling attempted to use his iPhone as a boarding pass at LaGuardia. His experience overall? It took a while for the boarding pass checker to send him to his next airport obstacle -- and security at the metal detector was stymied by his inability to turn over all his electronics and keep his boarding pass on his person. I'm oddly impressed that someone tried this feat.

And finally, bootleg iPhone flips are turning up in the Chinese market. Dubbed the "iPhone V126," the impostor measures 105mm by 53mm by 17mm and weighs 110 grams, with a 3-megapixel camera, MP3 capability, and some built-in games. Despite the Apple logo on the shell (which lights up when calls are received), this is another fruit entirely, with a touchscreen that bears little resemblance to the original. Well, you know what they say about imitation.

This article originally appeared as a blog posting on our sister site, InfoWorld.com.

This story, "101 Uses for an iPhone" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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